Early Christian Biographies: Lives Of: St. Cyprian, by Pontius; St. Ambrose, by Paulinus; St. Augustine, by Possidius; St. Anthony, by St. Athanasius; St. Paul the First Hermit, St. Hilarion, and Malchus, by St. Jerome; St. Epiphanius, by Ennodius; with a Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus, by St. Hilary

Early Christian Biographies: Lives Of: St. Cyprian, by Pontius; St. Ambrose, by Paulinus; St. Augustine, by Possidius; St. Anthony, by St. Athanasius; St. Paul the First Hermit, St. Hilarion, and Malchus, by St. Jerome; St. Epiphanius, by Ennodius; with a Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus, by St. Hilary

Early Christian Biographies: Lives Of: St. Cyprian, by Pontius; St. Ambrose, by Paulinus; St. Augustine, by Possidius; St. Anthony, by St. Athanasius; St. Paul the First Hermit, St. Hilarion, and Malchus, by St. Jerome; St. Epiphanius, by Ennodius; with a Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus, by St. Hilary

Early Christian Biographies: Lives Of: St. Cyprian, by Pontius; St. Ambrose, by Paulinus; St. Augustine, by Possidius; St. Anthony, by St. Athanasius; St. Paul the First Hermit, St. Hilarion, and Malchus, by St. Jerome; St. Epiphanius, by Ennodius; with a Sermon on the Life of St. Honoratus, by St. Hilary

Excerpt

The Life of Cyprian is the first Christian biography that attained popularity. Although by no means a finished literary product, it is important because of its originality in the field.

This life of Cyprian was written by Pontius soon after the bishop's death. As Cyprian's disciple, the author was deeply convinced of the greatness of his master and anxious to make the world equally conscious of his admirable character.

Apparently, popular acclaim furthered his purpose, for in the opening paragraphs of the Life there is a reference to importuning requests of the people for information on Cyprian's life and death. Therefore, the biography actually answers a demand of the day, and Pontius was decidedly not loath to meet it.

With but little definite information at hand, there could not possibly be a purely objective presentation. Undeterred from his purpose, however, the author exerted an abundance of rhetorical skill to attain his end. The facts, from the conversion of Cyprian until his death, are the compass of the work. Because of the elegance of language and multiplicity of verbiage, it is exceedingly difficult to follow any real sequence of events in the biography. Since positive evidence was scarce, Pontius took pains to make up for the deficiency with a variety and extravagance of expression which at times renders it all but impossible to follow the thought.

Doubtless, Pontius' chief aim was to show the unusual . . .

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